indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Native Sun News: Utility faces lawsuit in Rosebud Sioux court

Filed Under: Law | National | Politics
More on: elections, energy, jurisdiction, native sun news, rosebud sioux, south dakota, tribal courts
   

The following story was written and reported by Talli Nauman, Native Sun News Health & Environment Editor. All content © Native Sun News.


An electric power line provided by Cherry-Todd Electric Coop crosses the Niobrara River. Courtesy/Cherry-Todd Electric Coop

Rosebud Sioux Tribe, representing 80% of electric coop membership, sues utility for discrimination
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News
Health & Environment Editor

Part I

ROSEBUD – The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council voted Jan. 29 to join a lawsuit charging the Cherry Todd Electric Cooperative with vote fraud and discrimination against tribal members.

“I am really proud of council action yesterday, because it means they see this as a fight that needs to be fought,” RST Utilities Commission Chairman Ronald Neiss told the Native Sun News on Jan. 30.

The lawsuit, as summarized in an argument filed in Rosebud Tribal Court on Sept. 24, stems from the rural electric cooperative’s 2013 annual meeting, at which staff conducted voting to exclude Native American votes and duplicate non-Indian votes.

The electric cooperative is one of 137 member-owned electrical service utilities in the Bismarck, North Dakota-based Basin Electric wholesale power generation and transmission provider’s system.

Controlling service in Todd and Melette counties in South Dakota and in Cherry County in Nebraska, the cooperative meets at Mission on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, where 80 percent of its membership consists of tribal enrollees.

Tribal members’ participation in annual meetings and on the cooperatives elected board of directors has been scant since the coop’s inception in 1946, according to Neiss.

But things changed at the most recent annual meeting and board election, held Sept. 21.

That’s when the grassroots Oyate For Fairness and Equal Representation (OFFER) invited tribal members to the First Annual Tribal Empowerment Gathering and Feed, marshalling support to attend and vote.

The tribal government got behind the event that that took place at Sinte Gleska University on voting day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., providing a meatloaf dinner and free transportation.

Three tribal enrollees who decided to run for a like number of open seats on coop board met the would-be voters at the Ben Reifel Auditorium in Mission, where the coop had scheduled the membership event.

According to numerous participants’ accounts, there’s where trouble began.

The arrival of more than 130 tribal members swelled the voting ranks to their largest in the coop’s 64-year history. The official tally of registered meeting goers was 367.

So many unexpected participants attended that the coop ran out of door prizes.

“Due to the unusually large number of members who attended this year’s annual meeting, our supply of registration gifts was exhausted,” the coop reported in its November newsletter. “We have obtained an additional supply. Those members who registered but did not receive one may stop in or give us a call,” it said.

However, other problems encountered at the meeting might not be so easy to solve.

Staffers also ran out of ballots. So instead they handed out pink slips for voting.

Participants complained that the coop staff refused to register some of the tribal enrollees, claiming they had inadequate identification, even when fellow members vouched for them.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s newspaper “The Sicangu Eyapaha” captured pictures of non-Indian voters holding two or three pink slips.

When the ballots for board member candidates were counted in secret, there were 80 more votes than there had been in a preceding floor vote on an amendment.

None of the tribal candidates won a seat, although tribal enrollees appeared to constitute about half of the voters in the room.

These and other allegations were presented at a public hearing held by the Tribal Utilities Commission at Rosebud Tribal Council chambers on Jan. 31 in order to document grievances.

The staff and board members of the electric coop did not attend the daylong session, sending a contractor to take notes.

Coop General Manager Tim Grablander did not respond to Native Sun News telephone messages left at his office and private number.

Although the coop newsletter of November sported a headline saying “64th Cooperative Annual Meeting Enjoyed by All”, the board also distributed a notice of apology stating:
“The board acknowledges the challenges presented during the business portion of the annual meeting and apologizes for the inconvenience caused to the members by the disturbances they encountered in that session.

“The board has initiated measures to insure that future annual meetings are conducted in an efficient and orderly manner and looks forward to seeing the members at the cooperative’s 65th annual meeting in 2014.”

The Cherry-Todd Electric Cooperative by-laws state: “No member may hold more than one membership in the cooperative.”

A couple may acquire a joint membership, in which case, they only have one vote between the two of them.

“Each member shall be entitled to any one vote upon each matter submitted to a vote at a meeting of the members.”

Like other electric coops, Cherry-Todd has federal funding from the Rural Utility Service of the Agriculture Department and so must comply with federal non-discrimination policies.

Cherry Todd’s published legal Statement of Nondiscrimination notes that “this organization is committed not to discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, color or national origin, solely by reason of such person’s handicap, or on the basis of age, in its policies and practices relating to applications for service or any other policies and practices relating to treatment of beneficiaries and participants including employment, rates, conditions and extension of service, admission or access to or use of any of its facilities, attendance at and participation in any meetings of beneficiaries, and participants or the exercise of any rights of such beneficiaries and participants in the conduct of operations of this organization.”

The statement directs anyone who feels subjected to discrimination to address a written complaint to Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service within 180 days. The tribal judge is deciding whether the court has dominion in the case.

The case was filed by the tribal enrollees who ran for coop board of directors, Rose Cordier, Shawn Bordeaux and Ann-Ericka White Bird, who claim the electric service utility is subject to tribal jurisdiction because it operates on the reservation.

(Contact Talli Nauman, NSN Health and Environment Editor at talli.nauman@gmail.com)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Businesses show support for LNI tournament (3/27)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux fighter climbing in the ranks (3/27)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives look 10,000 years into the future (3/27)
Ivan Star: The influences of boarding school and Vietnam War (3/27)
Gyasi Ross: Funerals become family reunions in Indian Country (3/27)
Tim Giago hands over the reins as publisher of Native Sun News (3/27)
House committee passes Native American Children's Safety Act (3/27)
Bill to benefit Miami Nation moves forward in House and Senate (3/27)
City extended contract to send treated sewage to sacred peaks (3/27)
Oneida Nation welcomes ruling backing land-into-trust request (3/27)
Lawmakers want BIA to delay new federal recognition reforms (3/27)
Another conviction from Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption probe (3/27)
Editorial: Shakopee Tribe contributes $5M for health initiative (3/27)
Opinion: Navajo Nation enacts 'sin tax' on unhealthy products (3/27)
Editorial: Opposition to Pamunkey Tribe recognition 'revolting' (3/27)
Dennis Jenkins: Hypocrisy for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (3/27)
Supreme Court asked to hear Kialegee Tribal Town gaming case (3/27)
Ho-Chunk Nation extends agreement for off-reservation casino (3/27)
Indiana lawmakers seek role in Pokagon Band gaming compact (3/27)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux leader not pleased with boycott (3/26)
Lakota Country Times: Lakota Nation Invitational stays in Rapid (3/26)
Native Sun News: Mayor of Rapid City addresses race relations (3/26)
Jane Daugherty: Tribal e-commerce continues to draw scrutiny (3/26)
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee's field hearing (3/26)
Richard Iron Cloud: Remove murderer's name from sacred peak (3/26)
Native Youth: Bring dental therapy providers to Indian Country (3/26)
Steven Newcomb: Tribal nations still under dominating process (3/26)
Law firm hosts tribes for session on marijuana in Indian Country (3/26)
Judge upholds BIA decision on Oneida Nation land-into-trust bid (3/26)
Appeals court rules against Crow Tribe in housing grant dispute (3/26)
Ho-Chunk Nation raises minimum wage to $2.75 above federal (3/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe to appeal decision in recognition lawsuit (3/26)
Racist emails of former Montana federal judge to be preserved (3/26)
Shingle Springs Band considered but rejected indoor gun range (3/26)
House panel backs bill to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (3/26)
Quapaw Tribe did not include casino on land-into-trust request (3/26)
Chumash Tribe never got apology for diplomat's casino remark (3/26)
Governor won't sign casino compact with Fort Sill Apache Tribe (3/26)
Cherokee Nation approves $6.9M renovation project for casino (3/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux veteran training for Paralympics (3/25)
Alaska Native musher Chuck Schaeffer completes 2015 Iditarod (3/25)
LTBB News: Michigan tribes come together for historic meeting (3/25)
Lecture focuses on repatriation of tribal intellectual properties (3/25)
Board still working on delivering money for Cobell scholarships (3/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair field hearing on drugs in Indian Country (3/25)
Bill for tribal marijuana compacts up for hearing in Washington (3/25)
Choctaw Nation chief hopes to travel to Ireland for monument (3/25)
HHS urged to do more to help tribes with foster care programs (3/25)
Eastern Cherokees work to teach language to new generations (3/25)
Another suggestion for Indian woman on $20 bill -- Sakakawea (3/25)
Man from Crow Tribe cites self-defense in fatal casino shooting (3/25)
Shawnee Tribe sees opposition to off-reservation gaming plan (3/25)
Navajo Nation signs Class III casino compact with New Mexico (3/25)
Quapaw Tribe insists a casino isn't focus of Arkansas land plan (3/25)
Suquamish Tribe reaches deal to allow highway work at casino (3/25)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.